The occupational structure, i.e. the distribution of working people across different industries and sectors showed very little sign of change during the British rule. The largest workforce was in the agricultural sector accounting for about 70-75% of the working people. The manufacturing sector had 10% while the service sector accounted for about 15-20% of the working population.
A main feature was the growing regional variation. Areas of the then Madras Presidency ( today's Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradhesh, and Kerala), Maharashtra and West Bengal saw a decline of the workforce in agriculture with a parallel increase in the manufacturing and services sector. During the same time, there was an increase in the workforce in the agriculture sector in Orissa, Rajastan and Punjab.